October 5th, 2015
Newkia is New Kid off the Old Block
A new Singapore-based company dubbed with the name of “NewKia” had arrived on the radar – and no prizes for guessing right. Yes, it’s related to Nokia’s legacy. It’s a somewhat cheesy name, but make no mistake – it’s a new company that emerged after the sale of Nokia’s devices business and the Microsoft-Nokia US$7.2 billion deal.
Newkia’s Chairman Thomas Zilliacus had spent over 15 years as a Nokia employee, including the Asia-Pacific CEO role for 7 years. Believing that Nokia would have done better if it had not taken the route of Windows, he is building a team that will carry forward the best knowledge of phones that made Nokia the world-leading mobile phone brand for 14 years.
Newly appointed CEO, Urpo Karjalainen, also an ex-Nokian and ex-Blackberry employee, was a mobile executive in Asia over the last 15 years, with rich contacts, reach, and credibility. He echoed the same view and said that he see a huge opportunity for Newkia in the current market, and he is very excited to be part of creating something new built on Nokia’s incredible legacy.
Talents from Nokia, among others, will also be joined the company to build up the team at NewKia, with expertise across the entire value chain – from smartphone design, to logistics, to manufacturing. In September, Zilliacus tweeted “Job applications are pouring in from all over the world. Cities are offering free office space. The thirst for a new phone is huge.”
Taking this Nokia know-how to build Android phones, Zilliacus planned to bring to market, a device that combine the solid hardware of Nokia, and put into it, the unmatched success of Android.
Newkia plans to differentiate itself by offering superior user experience in the features that consumers want to see in their phones, he said. The company will be targeting the Asian region where the market is, in terms of population and growth potential.
“The world has changed a great deal in the last few years in the manufacturing and distribution of mobile phones. You no longer need your own factories like Nokia did, and you can quickly achieve quite significant market share with the right product and concept,” he said. China’s Xiaomi, for example, launched its first phone only a year ago and today outsells Apple in China. The Chinese smartphone maker today is worth US$10 billion, he noted. “So we have a company that didn’t exist three years ago and is now worth more than what Microsoft paid for Nokia. It shows you can build something new with the right concept and products.”
While the new phone’s branding may not be NewKia due to possible infringement on the Nokia brand name, there is currently a Facebook page (probably an unofficial one) at https://www.facebook.com/NewKiaPhones, which could provide a glimpse of what is to come in the near future.
Zilliacus also shared that the company was “moving rapidly toward the deployment” of its first phone.